A Richland County state senator wants to hold hearings into tuition breaks South Carolina public colleges use to recruit more students from other states.
State Sen. Darrell Jackson, D-Richland, on Tuesday asked acting Senate Education Committee Chairman Harvey Peeler, R-Cherokee, to hold hearings to investigate the practice. The State newspaper reports this comes after it reported on the University of South Carolina’s heavy use of discounted tuition to recruit students from outside the Palmetto State. The school offered $84 million in tuition discounts last year, according to the newspaper.
The college offers tuition reductions to out-of-state students with high SAT scores in an effort to recruit them to South Carolina. The subsidized rates can sometimes mean it is less expensive for a student in another state to attend South Carolina than their own state’s flagship school. For instance, a Pennsylvania teen faces $32,o00 tuition and fees at Penn State University, according to the school’s website, but could attend USC’s in-state tuition at roughly $23,700 and receive additional tuition reductions to cut it further.
“USC is turning its back on South Carolina residents in pursuit of national prestige,” Jackson wrote in a letter. “The result of USC’s enrollment strategy is to limit the educational opportunities for South Carolina residents. It should also be noted that USC is diluting its minority student representation as a result of its enrollment practices. And my concern is USC is not alone.”
USC defended its efforts to attract higher-performing students from outside of South Carolina. The school says it needs the additional out-of-state students to pay extra tuition to adjust for declining state assistance since the recession hit in 2007.